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Tesla Shares Patents To Spur Electric Car Development


Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S

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Tesla Motors is taking its patents open source in order to encourage the development of electric cars. In a company blog post, CEO Elon Musk said Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] won't initiate a legal war over its patents, declaring that "all our patent are belong to you."

"Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology," Musk said in the post, explaining that he'd taken a similar approach with his first company, Zip2.

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While patents may have been good in the past, Musk said he feels that today they primarily serve to "stifle progress, entrench the positions of giant corporations, and enrich those in the legal profession, rather than the actual inventors."

Until a few days ago, there was a wall of patents in the lobby of Tesla's Palo Alto headquarters. Musk said the company had worked to accumulate patents to prevent larger automakers from copying its technology and using their resources to crush the startup Tesla. However, Musk said Tesla "couldn't have been more wrong" about the major automakers' intentions, pointing to meager sales of electric cars as evidence of their lack of enthusiasm.

The most immediate effect of Tesla's move will likely be the opening of the company's 'Supercharger' fast-charging standard to rival charging networks and automakers, who could use the standard for future vehicles. Musk hinted earlier this week that Tesla would open its network to other automakers, as long as they agreed to the company's business model, which likely means contributing to the cost of the Superchargers and continuing to allow users to charge for free.

Meanwhile, Tesla may already have a potential electric car development partner. Reuters reports that Tesla executives met with managers from BMW on Wednesday, although no details on the nature of the talks were released. BMW wouldn't be the first automotive partner for Tesla, though. The Silicon Valley automaker developed the powertrain for the Toyota RAV4 EV, an all-electric version of Toyota's compact crossover that's sold only in California to comply with the state's zero-emission vehicle mandate, and it's helped develop powertrains for Mercedes-Benz EVs.

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